News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Civil War 150th: Tracing Lincoln’s landmark visits to area
BY CLINT SCHEMMER
Abraham Lincoln, the record makes clear, was a commander in chief who prized getting information from the front as quickly and as directly as possible.
Often, he was frustrated in his efforts by obfuscating and dilatory generals, the most notable being George B. McClellan, of course.
When he could, the 16th president would nip out of Washington and go straight to the source. That desire brought him to the Fredericksburg area on numerous occasions, before and after the 1862 battle fought here.
This Saturday, as part of the region’s 150th anniversary commemoration of the Civil War, the National Park Service will host a full day of programs interpreting those visits, Lincoln, and his keen wartime interest in Virginia.
At 10 a.m., Park Service historian John Hennessy will lead a 90-minute walk tracing Lincoln’s footsteps during his May 23, 1862, visit to Fredericksburg. His “Mr. Lincoln’s Fredericksburg” tour will explore the occupied town that the U.S. president glimpsed after he crossed the Rappahannock River from Stafford County. Participants should meet at City Dock on lower Sophia Street.
At Chatham Manor in southern Stafford, where Lincoln dined, local historian Jane Conner will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to discuss and sign her book “Lincoln in Stafford”—the best-selling volume at the historic site. Conner knows more about Lincoln’s time here than anyone.
From 2 to 3 p.m., you’re invited to rest in the shade of Chatham’s Civil War “witness trees” and hear Hennessy and colleague Donald Pfanz discuss some of Lincoln’s many visits to the Army of the Potomac, including his April 1863 review of the troops in Stafford and his 1865 visit to City Point and Richmond just days before his death at the hands of an assassin. (Bring your lawn chairs.)
Of the president’s many encounters with his men in blue, Lincoln spent his longest stretches at the front in Stafford and City Point, Conner and Pfanz note.
From 3:30 to 4 p.m., Hennessy will discuss Lincoln’s military leadership in 1862—what he calls his “immense, though not always effective, efforts to keep a teetering Union war effort on track.”
All the programs are free.
WANT TO GO:
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Chatham Manor in Stafford, and City Dock in Fredericksburg